Dirks breaks silence

2011-06-15 00:00

FORMER Msunduzi Deputy Mayor Mervyn Dirks has broken his silence and is speaking out about the corruption that led to the near-collapse of the municipality last year.

His expose blows the lid off the controversial R240 million smart meter contract that was never budgeted for. He also claims the bogus Nkosi Mlaba Festival, which never happened, was a cover to pass on R1,8 million to the ANC’s Moses Mabhida regional executive committee (REC).

The former deputy mayor claims the REC micro-managed the municipality to the extent that it dished out instructions to staff and was instrumental in deciding who got tenders.

Dirks alleges that the controversial R240 million smart meter contract was awarded to a consortium of a Port Elizabeth company, Unique Mbane, and its local partners, Mantombazana Holdings, a company in which Dr May Mashego-Mkhize was a co-director, the Majestic Group and several other organisations.

The Majestic Group has four members: Sibongiseni Mkhize, Lindelani Mkhize, Joseph Mashego and Nondumiso Khanyile. Mashego is the brother of the premier’s wife and Dirks claims that Sibongiseni and Lindelani Mkhize are related to the premier.

Dirks said that after the adoption of the 2009/2010 budget the ANC executive committee (Exco) members and senior managers were summoned to the mayor’s parlour by the ANC regional secretary, Super Zuma.

At the meeting they were instructed by Zuma to approve R10 million in upfront payments to Unique Mbane at the next Exco meeting.

“A heated debate ensued between Super and me regarding this instruction,” said Dirks.

“I informed him that I was not prepared to carry out this instruction and that he could report me to the PEC [provincial executive committee] or the NEC [national executive committee] of the ANC.”

He said he boycotted the Exco meeting where the R10 million was approved to pay Unique Mbane, even though the company had not yet done any work.

Dirks said that on March 23, 2009, Exco under the leadership of Mayor Zanele Hlatshwayo, wrote to the MEC of local government at the time, Mike Mabuyakhulu, to report the unauthorised expenditure.

“Two years later we have paid more than R20 million for smart metering and the city does not have a single smart meter. On top of all this the project has been halted,” he said.

Dirks claims that after the awarding of the tender, when Exco and the media started asking questions, the premier’s wife resigned as a member of Mantombazana.

He further alleges that Unique Mbane undertook to pay its empowerment partners an upfront payment of R5 million upon the awarding of the contract.

“Is this the reason that the regional secretary was so adamant that Exco approve R10 million upfront payments to Unique Mbane?” he asked.

Lindiwe Ngcobo, KZN chairperson of the South African Women Empowerment Network (Sawen), who is listed as the other director of Mantombazana Holdings, said the premier’s wife resigned long before they joined the consortium.

She said her fellow director is Gethwana Makhaye.

Premier Dr Zweli Mkhize yesterday vehemently denied that he and his wife were involved in any corruption or doing business with the municipality.

“My wife was one of the directors of Mantombazana Holdings as she was playing her role in the empowerment of women, but when the Unique Mbane Consortium was in place she had long resigned from the company and was pursuing other business interests,” he said.

Mkhize said his wife resigned around May 2007.

He added that his relatives and family members did not tell him of all their business interests so he did not know if they were doing business with the municipality.

Mkhize said it was precisely to root out corruption that the municipality was placed under administration.

He said the administrator was given powers to investigate all aspects of the municipality.

He added that he also wants closure on the corruption that has plagued the capital city.

Mkhize indicated that Dirks’s allegations border on defamation and said he may take legal action.

Dirks told The Witness that he decided to speak out as he had grown tired of his name and those of former mayor Zanele Hlatshwayo and other Exco members being rubbished and being blamed for corruption when more than a year later they have not been investigated.

“Six investigations have been carried out at so far and none of us has been implicated.”

Dirks said he is angry that while his name and that of the former mayor and Exco members are being rubbished, members of the REC were becoming councillors and have positioned themselves in the leadership of local municipalities in the district.

REC secretary Super Zuma denied the allegations levelled against them.

“Not only are they personally defamatory, but they are also degrading and an insult to the ANC,” he added.

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